Accidentally, on Purpose: The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America

Overview

Accidentally on Purpose is the first book to document the making of America's most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centered on the traditional activities of organized crime, this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries.
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Overview

Accidentally on Purpose is the first book to document the making of America's most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centered on the traditional activities of organized crime, this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At half the length this would have been twice as interesting, for Dornstein gets buried under the avalanche of material he amassed and seems to have lacked editorial help in digging out. A first-time author, he's a writer of talent who knows how to build tension, but the reader's initial wonder at the ingenuity of the insurance scams presented ultimately gives way to tedium at their sameness, even at the self-mutilations that seem the common coin of insurance fraud. Dornstein, who became a private investigator of suspected staged accidents after graduating from Brown in 1991, presents a scholarly history of the subject, going back a century to detail the operations of ship scuttlers and arsonists, Workmen's Comp swindlers and the like, and then focuses on today's freeway "swoops-and-squats," i.e., staged crashes. Los Angeles is the capital of America's personal injury "underworld," according to the author, with an estimated 10,000 fraudulent claims filed annually. Not an underworld in the sense of being controlled by organized crime, scams are most often initiated by neighborhood hustlers or confederations of doctors and lawyers. The so-called accident victims are cheaply hired to sustain or fake injuries. And although individual claims are paltry, in the aggregate they amount to an estimated $1 billion annually. The lure of easy money, Dornstein concludes after pondering the self-evident, is probably the motivation. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This book is a well-researched, fascinating review of the world of faked personal injuries. The author graduated from an Ivy League college in 1991 and then spent a short time working as an investigator of questionable injury cases in Los Angeles. He recounts his experiences and interviews some of the participants in a nationwide epidemic of greed and deception. Dornstein traces the historical origins of false personal injury claims to ship scuttlers in the early 1800s, who would overinsure their vessels and then wreck them to reap the insurance benefits. From ship scuttling to speculation on the lives of strangers to rigged car accidents, the world of faked injuries revolves around insurance claims. The author does suggest solutions but lays the blame on American culture, which encourages accident victims to cash in. For general collections.-Harry Charles, St. Louis, Mo.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312176839
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/1/1998
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: Who Killed Jose Luis Lopez Perez? An Unsentimental Education 1
Introduction: Prelude to a Fall 19
1 The Rise (And Frequent Falls) of the American Accident Faker 53
2 Accident Racketeers on the Streets of the City 87
3 The Nationwide War on Ambulance Chasers 125
4 Inside the House of Pain 157
5 Whiplash Culture 195
6 The Friends of the Friendless 243
7 El Toro y La Vaca 279
8 Mapping the Underworld 321
Epilogue: Who Killed Jose Luis Lopez Perez? - The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America 367
Notes 377
Index 449
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